PM heads to four-leader White House talks

Paul Osborne
(Australian Associated Press)


Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit Washington DC next week for his first US trip since Joe Biden took office.

“I look forward to reaffirming our 70-year alliance, and to discussing ways to further strengthen our security and economic partnership,” Mr Morrison said.

The visit takes on added importance as it will include the first face-to-face meeting of Quad leaders, including the US president, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga.

“Reconvening this important group reinforces our commitment to the Indo-Pacific COVID-19 recovery, and our efforts towards peace, prosperity and stability in our region,” Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister and accompanying officials and media will quarantine on their return.

The Quad nations have been seeking to enhance cooperation to push back against China’s growing assertiveness.

The summit will be held at the White House on September 24.

US officials had indicated Mr Morrison would also address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, but AAP understands this is not the case.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne will attend the opening of the assembly and represent Australia at a number of events in New York during what is known as “high-level week”.

Mr Biden’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, Kurt Campbell, said in July the long-planned in-person meeting should bring “decisive” commitments on vaccine diplomacy and infrastructure.

The Quad meeting comes after Mr Biden’s image has taken a battering over the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

US officials have said ending America’s longest war will allow the administration to divert resources and attention to tackling China-related issues.

Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Australia’s lack of action on climate change left it isolated on the world stage.

“It stands in stark contrast to some of our closest partners and allies including the US, which has put the climate crisis at the top of the list for discussions at the Quad summit,” she said.

Ahead of the visit, Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Senator Payne have been travelling through the Indo-Pacific region and will attend the regular AUSMIN talks in the US capital.

with Reuters

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